NPR Story
3:04 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Washington Supreme Court Hears Airplane Meal Workers Case

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 4:42 pm

Washington’s Supreme Court will decide whether employers must accommodate the religious practices of their employees.

The high court heard oral arguments Tuesday in a case involving four employees of an airline catering company. The four men who brought the lawsuit worked for Gate Gourmet making in-flight meals.

No outside food was allowed on the premises, so the employees were provided lunch by the company. The lawsuit alleges the options did not accommodate the religious-based dietary restrictions of the employees.

Attorney Aaron Rocke represents the four men who brought the suit. He told the high court that Washington’s anti-discrimination law should obligate employers to make reasonable religious accommodations. In this case, Rocke says, Gate Gourmet was already making meals to accommodate airline passengers.

“They make halal, vegetarian, gluten-free meals, they respect the dietary preferences of airline passengers in a way they don’t afford to their own employees,” he says.

The attorney for Gate Gourmet countered that -- as currently written -- Washington’s anti-discrimination does not require employers to make religious accommodations.

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